The Sodexo Institute of Sodexology?

Mon, 2015/03/23
Reno Waswil
After months of heated negotiations between IIT and their primary food provider Sodexo, finally, both parties have come to an agreement over a set of new terms indicative of their professional relationship. This includes, most notably, that Sodexo will take full legal control over Illinois Institute of Technology. “They drove a hard bargain and we eventually reached a point that we really had no other option but to settle,” says a representative of the school's contract negotiating team. “I mean, I’m not saying that the quality of their food is mediocre at best and not worth the cost; I would never say that, but they have a really good negotiating team that, if that were the case, not saying that it is, but if it were, would make it difficult for many of the students on campus to deal with that fact.”

You might be asking yourself, What does this mean for me as a student? Don’t I have any say whatsoever in the management of my education? Well no, of course you don’t, but you will be happy to learn that you will notice very little change of everyday operations--at least for now. In fact, IIT is only one of a few dozen universities worldwide that Paris-based food services and facility management corporation Sodexo has acquired in recent years. The reason you might not have heard of all of this is that there is nothing to talk about. Business as usual, as they say.

As the director of the Sodexo’s Education Division, Marigold TaiIumina said in a brief statement about the 'merger,' as she calls it, “The school will still be called the Illinois Institute of Technology, operations will still be running as usual, maybe even a little more efficiently, and the only noticeable changes at all will be a few of our representatives sitting on and ultimately having the final decisions at most of the important board meetings. As with all of our mergers, we are not looking to replace any of the fine executives, faculty, and staff that have made this school what it is today. All the teachers are going to be kept…Well, most of the teachers are going to be kept.”

As current Sodexo CEO, Michel Landel explains in an article entitled “Sodexo’s CEO on Smart Diversification” in The Harvard Business Review, “Usually when we take on a new contract, the client already has employees performing the functions involved, so we take those employees on as our own and retrain them. They require training because their attitude is a major component of our competitive advantage.” Tailumina furthers this point, “We will do the best we can to make sure that the students are getting the education they deserve, and if that means we have to set a few bad apples straight, then so be it. If any of the school’s students…or should I say OUR students, are concerned with changes in the quality of their education, let me just assure them that we will give the same commitment to molding sharp, young intellects as we do to the preparation and sales of our food.”

You also might be wondering what benefits this new partnership might have for the students at the school. Well, you’ll be thrilled to hear that, in fact, there are many benefits that Sodexo’s corporate position is able to provide. For one, for the students disappointed at the availability of internships to them under the current administration, Sodexo has laid out an initiative to help with that by providing students the opportunity to enter paid (in bonus points) internships with Sodexo. Tailumina again said, “As I’m sure you can tell, we are really expanding our reach from the company we once were, and with every new frontier comes a need for bright young pilgrims to help us ravage the native populations. We will even offer perks to students who are willing to work for them like reduced tuition and job security at whatever division you choose to work in, whether it be in food preparation, healthcare, nuclear development; any of the areas we are expanding into. Of course it wouldn't be mandatory like our meal plans, but I just don’t see why every one of our students wouldn't want to take full advantage of the opportunities we are offering; I really, really don’t.”

In addition to that, Sodexo is a multinational corporation with roots in different markets in different countries all around the world. This fact makes it much easier for study abroad programs to be initiated and for worldwide connections to be made. Tailumina says, “We've got schools in Germany, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, etc; we are even planning on building one in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, you know, underwater. At Sodexo, we believe in globalization and all the good stuff that comes along with it. You could be working on projects with students halfway around the world of whom you don’t even know the names. As our core mission statements go, we work to promote and enhance healthy and productive environments everywhere we embed our talons…get it, Talons‽”

For students who may be still skeptical of the changes that will be enacted in the upcoming years, let your mind at ease with the knowledge that at least one small change for the better was included in the new contracts. “We did have one small victory in that we did get them to agree to bring back the Create Your Own meal plan option in the future, so there’s that,” says the negotiations representative from before. “The only way this would be possible though was to alter conversion rates slightly in the opposite direction as might be hoped; three points per Commons meal to be exact. I'm telling you, those attorneys, they’re like sharks; sharks with law degrees and Freddy Krueger knife-hands.”

As Landel says in the article referenced before, “It’s conceivable that Sodexo could one day provide quality-of-life services to an individual from birth to post-retirement.” Well, I guess Sodexo is on the right track with that.